Part 12

by CM Towns

   Night time at the Red Hook Marine Terminal, one of the four container terminals as part of the Port of New York and New Jersey. The terminal handles container ships and bulk cargo. Tonight it’s the first stop on the Guards investigation. Before setting out for dinner Jessie gave the team the job of traveling to Red Hook, Brooklyn and checking out the terminal for any possible clues to the whereabouts of Fliopt. Containers were a popular way of smuggling weapons and even people into foreign countries. It was easy to hide and with the right money you can pay people to look the other way.
   Kestrel and Gravity Woman stood atop a few containers, yards away form the main office. They were working as lookouts. Kestrel had a scope, keeping an eye on port workers in the distance and turning to look for any security patrolling nearby.
   “No one seems to notice a thing,” Kestrel said.
   “Doesn’t surprise me. I flew us overhead, plus Flash-Man’s quick,” Gravity Woman replied.
   “Still-you think these places would be better guarded.”
   “I think that’s kinda the point.”
   Kestrel spoke into her glove, “Sitrep?”
   In her earpiece she heard Ichi Senshi reply, “On our way back.”

   “GR44? You there?” Kestrel asked.
   “I’m here,” said the voice of the newest recruit of the Intelligence Hub.
   “Anything happening we need to know about?”
   “There has not been any chatter. You guys are safe,” he answered.
   “How come you’re the one nervous? You’ve done this thing quite a few times, right?” inquired Gravity Woman.
   “I think it’s because it’s a team effort. Plus the scale of this operation in comparison to the jobs I’ve run. Plus you and Ichi have limited experience in the field. Also Flash-Man usually deals with small time robberies and assaults,” she answered.
   “You need to worry less. We don’t even know if there is anything here.”
   “True-but Reina made a point about docks, warehouses, ports, abandoned plants, and underground tunnels being a major red flag for villain activity and movement,” Kestrel countered.
   “She also said that the Port Newark terminal would be the likeliest candidate for smuggling. But that one’s out of our way,” Gravity Woman responded.
   “Reina said she’d check’em out after dinner.”
   “Lucky gal-gets a fancy meal and we’re out here.”
   “You ask me, Michie’s lucky, she’s relaxing in that suite,” Kestrel said.
   “We’re below you,” came the voice over the ear pieces. Gravity Woman looked over the edge and saw Ichi Senshi and Flash-Man. She reached her arms out in their direction, breathed in, and concentrated on the pair. It used to be hard for her to aim an invisible gravitational force in one direction but over the last few months she’s gotten far better at it.
   Once Ichi Senshi and Flash-Man touched down atop the container Ichi said, “Flash-man scanned the files to try and look up discrepancies and I took a quick look on the managers computer. It’s hard to say if there is anything of use since I don’t know what we are looking for. We docked that parasite device and uploaded to the receiver so the tech team can check it out.”
   “So nothing?” Gravity Woman asked, “And I got all fancied up.”
   “There was something. A safe in the main office,” Flash-Man said showing a small bag of diamonds.
   “You can crack safes?” Kestrel asked.
   “You can’t?” he replied before saying, “Actually Kid Victory suggested I learned. He said due to my speed I could possible do what safe crackers normally do in less than half the time. Seeing as it was a dial lock rather than electronic or key, it made it simpler.”
   “Won’t they know someone robbed them?” Gravity Woman asked.
   “That’s the point. We staged a robbery. With scattered folders and files all around. Once the alarm sounds we see if someones hiding anything,” Aamil said.
   “Clever. Flash-you’re the assailant. We drop you in front of security and you run. Gravity Woman will pick you up moments later and you two wait for us. Me and Ichi will see if anyone gets nervous about any containers,” Kestrel directed.
   The team split into pairs. Kestrel and Flash-Man moved closer to the office with Gravity Woman and Flash-Man moving in an opposite direction. It only took several minutes to have the security in a frenzy about a masked man on the premises. Several minutes for the the first responders to arrive on the scene. It was over thirty minutes until one men in charge arrived. Well into the early morning before he broke away to wander across the yard.
   Kestrel and Ichi Senshi’s patience paid off as they shadowed the man easily. It took about ten minutes but he had arrived at a group of containers and was relieved none of them were open.
   “Having a bad night,” Kestrel said from behind him.
   “What the-? Who are you?!” he asked stunned.
   “The terrible two investigating a man in all black who was running around. What’s in the containers?” Kestrel asked.
   “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he replied. Ichi summoned a sword in his hand and pointed it at the mans throat. He turned and opened one of the containers quickly.
   “Nothing?” Kestrel said disappointed.
   “What are the others?” Ichi asked. He pointed to the two next to them.
   The man obliged and each container was opened and the insides were empty. Kestrel was annoyed but Ichi was calm about it. Did not surprise him that a wanted criminal whose avoided capture in dozens of countries would seek to eliminate any trace of his arrival.
   “You were smuggling. The people who paid you did a great job of covering but they didn’t cover every angle. Money exchanged hands so who paid you?” Kestrel asked.
   “Some tall white guy with blond hair and blue eyes,” he answered.
   “Was he wearing jewelry?” Kestrel asked.
   “What? What kind of question-?” he started but then Kestrel pointed a sai at him.
   “None that I remember,” he replied.
   “Facial hair, tattoos, anything you remember? Think hard,” Kestrel continued.
   “Fuzz on the chin. I think some tat on one his hands,” the man answered.
   “Do you know what was in the containers?” Ichi asked.
   “People is what they told me. Some crates of guns,” he replied.
   “Get outta here,” Kestrel told him.
   The man ran off and Kestrel shook her head. “Gravity Woman, we could use a pick up,” Kestrel said into the gloves mic.
   “It might not even be them,” Ichi commented.
   “The containers are too clean. You think gun smugglers would do that good of a job?” Kestrel asked.
   “Good point but that doesn’t help. We do not know where these guys are or what they’re doing. We are speculating that Fliopt is either here to make new deals or is looking for something ancient,” Ichi stated.
   “We got a description. That would be hard to follow but with the Guards resources we might do fine in tracking the money,” Kestrel said.
   “The jewelry thing? What did you mean by that question?”
   “The report on him states that he could enchant gems that would disguise Harkins as humans. Usually white with black hair and brown eyes but blond is not unheard of,” she answered.
   “So probably Fliopt had to hire someone to prep for their arrival. You think he flew one of his buddies over? Or did he go with local talent?” Ichi asked.
   “It’s possible he went with local talent,” Kestrel replied before going to her mic and asking, “GR44?”
   “What’s the word?” he responded.
   “They might have come through this port. We’ll need surveillance and footage from street cameras. Check on known contacts of Fliopt in New York. Specifically tall blond man with blue eyes, chin hair and a tattoo on a hand?”
   “Which hand?” GR44 replied.
   “Don’t know. The guy might not be a known contact, some sort of local middleman,” Kestrel replied.
   “Maybe keep tabs on the local management of this terminal,” Ichi added into his com.
   “No problem,” GR44 responded.
   Gravity Woman touched down and asked, “I’m guessing it went good?”
   “We might not have to check into any other ports. That’s about it?” Kestrel said.
   “Great! Lets get back to the suite. we can get back to this tomorrow,” Gravity Woman said before levitating herself and her teammates up off the ground.